Recently, a public procurement notice was published by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MOFT) declaring that contractors used to provide the service and maintenance of Honiara International Airport and the 21 provincial airports have expired since September 2014 and were non-compliant, hence declared null and void.
TSI understands that the action taken by MOFT to cease all airport contracts is to allow relevant government authorities to rectify and regularize the tendering and contracting of these services in the manner fully consistent with the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) Public Financial Management Act 2013 rules and regulations.
Under the new arrangement, preparations are being driven by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, in conjunction with the Ministry of Communication and Aviation(MCA) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID) and with support and guidance by the Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands for safety standards and quality specifications.
Transparency Solomon Islands applauds MOFT for exercising transparency and we acknowledge the step taken by relevant line ministries to ensure that a comprehensive tendering process based on performance is underway to determine genuine and qualified contractors.
This is a way forward and it must be done accordingly. The public procurement notice is just one step towards transparency and accountability on how public resources are used and utilized.
TSI have learned that a lot of citizens are complaining that some of the contractors who won tender bidding to provide maintenance to airports have failed to deliver services and some have left incomplete work.
An example of such is the Ministry of Communication and Aviation project to rehabilitate and re-install Non-Directional Beacons(NDB) at the Kirakira, Auki, Munda and Rennell airports.
In November 2012 the project was awarded to a local communications firm for more than SBD$2 million, however the contractor technically failed leaving these airports without functional NDBs to date.
It was further alleged that last year the Ministry of Aviation re-issued a tender for the same company for the airports project through the Central Tender Board.
This example highlights how inefficiency can permanently threaten the achievement of desired results.
TSI strongly calls on the relevant ministries that when reviewing the contract for this year, performance-based indicators must be a priority in awarding or reviewing of contracts.
Why this is important is because of the fact that millions of dollar were allocated for such contract.
The value for maintenance cost for Honiara International Airport in 2014 was in the range of at least $20,000 to $60,000 per lot per month for an aggregate cost of nearly $1 million per month.
Maintenance cost for the 21 provincial airports in 2014 was in the range of at least $10,000 to $20,000 per month depending on lot size.
Maintenance cost at Munda International Airport was at least $40,000 to $50,000 per lot per month.
These are truly huge spending involving millions and it was fully funded by the Solomon Islands Governments, meaning it was fully footed by tax payers of this country.
Therefore, following specify due procedures to reach a decision to award contract is essential to ensure value of money against development outcome is realized.
While TSI applauds MOFT for the efforts done, publishing the winning contractors and decisions made to award contract must be done as well to help shed more light on government procurement processes and procedures which aims to improve services and development in Solomon Islands.
- TRANSPARENCY SOLOMON ISLANDS